Rick Pitino: If Calathes was Steph Curry, he’d be in the NBA

2019-11-28T23:00:46+00:00 2019-11-28T23:10:31+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

28/Nov/19 23:00


Pitino expects his player to have each other’s back on defense.

By Eurohoops team/ info@eurohoops.net

Panathinaikos coach Rick Pitino talked about Jimmer Fredette’s defense and how he wants the rest of the team’s players to make that extra step to help in that area of the game.

“Jimmer’s a decent defensive player,” Pitino answered when asked about the balance between Fredette’s offensive and defensive game in the presser following the win of Panathinaikos’ win over Baskonia. “Now. He’s 6’1. So, I told the team ‘Well, I’m not going to take Jimmer out because he’s 6’1.. I expect the other four guys to cover his back’. So If we play with Jacob Wiley at the ‘5″ and they post up, I expect the other four guys to have his back. That’s what defense is all about.”

Fredette came one point shy of tying his season-high in EuroLeague by scoring 21 in the victory over the Baskonia. It was Pitino’s first game since he returned to the “Greens.”

“With Manos, we both talked for a long time before I decided what to do and I said: “We got to get Jimmer Fredette’. We have to get him,” Pitino added. “That being said, Wesley Johnson is a big addition to this team. Jacob Wiley, who I brought in, is a big addition to this team. And we have an owner who, fortunately for me, he took me and Manos’ suggestions and put them out there. Fortunately, he was a fan of Jimmer Fredette as a player.

“So Jimmer Fredette’s a very good defensive player,” Pitino continued. “Is he a little short for a shooting guard? Well, we always say this. If Nick was Steph Curry, he’d be in the NBA shooting the ball. If Jimmer Fredette was 6’5. he wouldn’t be at Panathinaikos. He’s a terrific defensive player. He’s just 6’1. And we’ll have his back every time defensively.

“Calathes is the most unique basketball player I’ve coached. Because he’s so savvy on defense as well as offense. Certain players see the play happening. He sees two or three plays ahead of him,” Pitino also mentioned about Calathes. Last season, Pitino had characterized Calatheas as the “best passer” he’s ever seen.

Regarding the win over Baskonia and the roster of Panathinaikos in general, Pitino mentioned the following:

“First and foremost, last year was so different from this year. You all know what I think of Nick [Calathes], you all know what I think of Pap [Ioannis Papapetrou], you all know what I think of DeShaun [Thomas] and last year, when I took them out of the game, I always felt that we dropped off. Now, I take Nick out of the game and I got a three-time MVP in EuroCup and EuroLeague, I take Pap out of the game and I got Wesley Johnson, who I think he is terrific. I take DeShaun out of the game and Dinos [Mitoglou] is playing great defense, giving me a lot, our power forward position is really big, and Jimmer Fredette is terrific, so the thing I am most proud about tonight is what I have emphasized in the last 48 hours: if you just rely on offense, you will be a mediocre team. If your defense is as good as your offense, you will be an outstanding team. All the way until the last possession tonight, they played their asses off on defense. The other thing I want to talk about is, if you remember, I was so repetitive last year with deflections, trying to get 35; I think we got it one time. Tonight, we got 34. We knew Baskonia was one of the best fastbreak teams and tonight, we wanted to get back and stop their break. We were 9-of-15 and they were 3-of-4. Field goal defense, 37% overall, so we played like we were one fist covering for each other. They made a couple of threes with no time on the clock, but we have a lot of potential. We are going to get a lot better. On a personal level, I absolutely loved coaching these guys last year and once again, they are quality people, quality players and I am just so excited to be back as the head coach.”